Good morning on Monday, May 24, 2021: National Escargot Day. It is a Three Bun Day, which means that I saw three cottontail rabbits on my way to work. This augurs a good day: 12 rabbits’ feet!
It’s also Asparagus Day, Brother’s Day (only one brother being celebrated?), and, in Canada, Victoria Day and its related holiday in Quebec, National Patriots’ Day (Journée nationale des patriotes). And Bob Dylan turns 80 today! (See below.)
News of the Day:
“Defund the police” was always a dubious slogan, unless qualified with strict specifications on where the money would go to compensate for reduced policing or to add extra social value. And, sure enough, this headline has appeared in The New Woke Times (click on screenshot):
The cause, of course, is a rise in violent crime. A quote:
. . . more cops is what Los Angeles is getting.
A year after streets echoed with calls to “defund” law enforcement and city leaders embraced the message by agreeing to take $150 million away from the Los Angeles Police Department, or about 8 percent of the department’s budget, the city last week agreed to increase the police budget to allow the department to hire about 250 officers. The increase essentially restores the cuts that followed the protests.
The BBC reports that John Kelly, an ultamarathoner, just set a record in the grueling Pennine Way race, a 260-mile route that “runs down the spine of Britain from the Scottish Borders’ Kirk Yetholm to Edale in Derbyshire’s Peak District.”They add that a fit hiker would take over two weeks to hike the route, but Kelly did it in just 58 hours and four minutes. And he had only two 10-minute naps along the way!
Speaking of ultramarathons, the NYT reports a mass death: 21 runners in a Chinese ultramarathon, including one of their best athletes, died when cold weather and freezing rain inundated a 62-mile mountain race. Many of the runners were clad only in short and tee-shirts.
The Associated Press has collected some depressing and hair-raising stories about how the pandemic has affected the lives of Indians, while the medical system breaks down. Here’s just one of several stories:
The Amrohi Family, Gurgaon
At the Amrohi apartment, the former ambassador’s family was calling his medical school classmates for help. One eventually arranged a bed at a nearby hospital.
It was April 26. The brutal north Indian summer was coming on. Temperatures that day reached nearly 105 degrees Fahrenheit (40 degrees Celsius).
His wife, Yamini, and their adult son Anupam put him into the family’s compact SUV.
They arrived about 7:30 p.m. and parked in front of the main doors, thinking Ashok would be rushed inside. They were wrong. Admission paperwork had to be completed first, and the staff was swamped.
So they waited.
Anupam stood in line while Yamini stayed in the car with Ashok, who was breathing bottled oxygen. She blasted the air-conditioning, trying to keep him cool.
An hour passed. Two hours. Someone came to swab Ashok for a coronavirus test. It came back positive. His breathing had grown difficult.
“I went thrice to the hospital reception for help. I begged, pleaded and shouted at the officials,” she said. “But nobody budged.”
At one point, their daughter called from London, where she lives with her family. With everyone on a video call, their four-year-old grandson asked to talk to Ashok.
“I love you, Poppy,” he said.
Ashok pulled off his oxygen mask: “Hello. Poppy loves you too.”
Anupam returned regularly to the car to check on his father.
“It’s almost done,” he would tell him each time. “Everything is going to be alright. Please stay with us!”
A little after midnight, Ashok grew agitated, pulling off the oxygen mask and gasping. His chest heaved. Then he went still.
“In a second he was no more,” Yamini said. “He was dead in my arms.”
Yamini went to the reception desk: “You are murderers,” she told them.
The story continues later in the article.
And a BBC report describes a deadly “black fungus” disease that strikes some people in India who have recovered from Covid, mostly males with underlying conditions like diabetes. It is a fulminating infection caused by a common soil fungus and must be treated with long-term doses of antifungal agents.
Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. is 589,517, an increase of 563 deaths over yesterday’s figure. The reported world death toll is now 3,478,596, an increase of about 9,000 over yesterday’s total.
Stuff that happened on May 24 includes:
- 1487 – The ten-year-old Lambert Simnel is crowned in Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin, Ireland, with the name of Edward VI in a bid to threaten King Henry VII’s reign.
- 1607 – One hundred English settlers disembark in Jamestown, the first permanent English colony in America.
- 1626 – Peter Minuit buys Manhattan.
Yes, the island was a bargain: it went for 60 guilders, a trifling amount now worth about $1,143. The sellers were Lenape Native Americans.
- 1683 – The Ashmolean Museum in Oxford, England, opens as the world’s first university museum.
- 1813 – South American independence leader Simón Bolívar enters Mérida, leading the invasion of Venezuela, and is proclaimed El Libertador (“The Liberator”).
- 1844 – Samuel Morse sends the message “What hath God wrought” (a biblical quotation, Numbers 23:23) from a committee room in the United States Capitol to his assistant, Alfred Vail, in Baltimore, Maryland, to inaugurate a commercial telegraph line between Baltimore and Washington D.C.
Morse in 1840; the man knew his Bible:
- 1883 – The Brooklyn Bridge in New York City is opened to traffic after 14 years of construction.
- 1930 – Amy Johnson lands in Darwin, Northern Territory, becoming the first woman to fly solo from England to Australia (she left on May 5 for the 11,000 mile flight).
Here’s Johnson in her Gypsy Moth plane in 1930. The flight took her six days. Sadly, she died after running out of fuel over the Thames Estuary in 1941 and, parachuting safely into the water, died of extreme cold.
- 1935 – The first night game in Major League Baseball history is played in Cincinnati, Ohio, with the Cincinnati Reds beating the Philadelphia Phillies 2–1 at Crosley Field.
- 1940 – Igor Sikorsky performs the first successful single-rotor helicopter flight.
Here’s Sikorsky in his first helicopter:
- 1940 – Acting on the orders of Soviet leader Joseph Stalin, NKVD agent Iosif Grigulevich orchestrates an unsuccessful assassination attempt on exiled Russian revolutionary Leon Trotsky in Coyoacán, Mexico.
A second attempt succeeded in August of that same year. If you’re in Mexico City, do visit Trotsky’s house, or rather fortress, which he built to stave off attacks. He knew Stalin was going to go after him. In 2012 I visited it (Frida Kahlo’s house is just a few blocks away); here’s the desk where Trotsky was sitting when an assassin put an ice axe into his head. It’s said to be just as he left it.
- 1956 – The first Eurovision Song Contest is held in Lugano, Switzerland.
- 1976 – The Judgment of Paris takes place in France, launching California as a worldwide force in the production of quality wine.
- 1991 – Israel conducts Operation Solomon, evacuating Ethiopian Jews to Israel.
- 1999 – The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia in The Hague, Netherlands indicts Slobodan Milošević and four others for war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in Kosovo.
- 2019 – Under pressure over her handling of Brexit, British Prime Minister Theresa May announces her resignation as Leader of the Conservative Party, effective as of June 7.
Notables born on this day include:
- 1819 – Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom (d. 1901)
- 1938 – Tommy Chong, Canadian-American actor, director, producer, and screenwriter
- 1941 – Bob Dylan, American singer-songwriter, guitarist, artist, writer, and producer; Nobel Prize laureate
Dylan is 80 today! How could time have passed so quickly? Here’s a photo I have in my office of Dylan with a certain young lady (his significant other at the time) who went on to achieve her own renown:
- 1960 – Kristin Scott Thomas, English actress
Those who lost their lives on May 24 include:
- 1543 – Nicolaus Copernicus, Polish mathematician and astronomer (b. 1473)
- 1879 – William Lloyd Garrison, American journalist and activist (b. 1805)
- 1974 – Duke Ellington, American pianist and composer (b. 1899)
I’ve almost finished reading my biography of Duke. Here’s one of my favorites from the Blanton-Webster version of his band (1939-1940): “Cotton Tail.” I put it up in honor of the three bunnies I saw this morning. And yes, this one swings! The sax solo made Ben Webster famous. (And this will wake you up, so keep the sound down if folks are sleeping!).
- 1996 – Joseph Mitchell, American journalist and author (b. 1908)
Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili and Paulina have a chat.
Hili: How does the writing of your masters theses go?Paulina: It’s going well but sometimes I need a break.(Photo: Paulina R.)
Hili: Jak ci idzie pisanie pracy magisterskiej?Paulina: Dobrze, ale czasem muszę odpocząć.
And Mietek has a moment of rapture:
Mietek: The wind in my hair.
From Science Humor:
From Meriliee. I do this, too, sticking one foot out from under the covers at night:
I made a tweet!
New paper shows that groups of hungry sea urchins eat starfish by pinning their arms down and consuming the tips, or even eating the whole starfish.https://t.co/Szy1jlNc37
Photo by Jeff Clements: pic.twitter.com/f8UfmwyD0L
— Jerry Coyne (@Evolutionistrue) May 23, 2021
From reader Ken, who comments, “This man was at one time the National Security Advisor of the United States of America.”
Michael Flynn said today that covid was a conspiracy to control the American people and divert attention away from stealing the election. He said it is not a problem in the rest of world, and he doesn’t worry about it because he has been taking hydroxychloroquin for 30 years. pic.twitter.com/2YzW3qNmAB
— Ron Filipkowski (@RonFilipkowski) May 21, 2021
Tweets from Matthew:
I think this might be the greatest ever tweet pic.twitter.com/4aIl0tfEMD
— niko (@negative_niko) May 23, 2021
I think this cat’s just harassed:
When your cat’s an introvert pic.twitter.com/4xmez4atbD
— Earthling (@ziyatong) May 23, 2021
This is a gynandromorph (half male, half female) ant of the ant species Pheidole noda, with sexual traits split straight down the middle. I suspect that the side with the wing is male, because only males or females who are destined to be queens have wings. Look at the difference between the male and female morphology!
— ユーヒ@虫垢 (@yuuhi_0523) May 23, 2021
Fun history and art fact (lovely paintings, too):
It blows my mind that more time elapsed BETWEEN the painting of these ice age horses [LEFT: Chauvet cave >33,000 years ago and RIGHT: Niaux cave ~15,000 years ago] than has passed since the Niaux cave art and now! #IceAgeArt 🎨🐴❄️❄️ pic.twitter.com/vK4K7A5i9z
— Prof Jamie Woodward (@Jamie_Woodward_) May 21, 2021
Everybody says this photo is wrong, but they can’t quite say why. Are the measurements wrong? Are they using different scales? You tell me! The guy certainly looks more than a foot and eight inches taller than the woman.
6‘9“ compared to 5‘1“ lmao pic.twitter.com/fkkOSlgGzv
— Human For Scale (@humanforscaIe) May 22, 2021